How all equestrians can help make the world a greener place

  • ALL those involved in horse sport have a responsibility to reduce their impact on the environment, according to businesses promoting change.

    In the wake of 2021 climate-change summit COP26, companies shared the ways they are working to be more “green”, and practical measures riders can take to make a difference.

    Westgate Labs, which offers worm-count services, created a nature reserve on its site and planted 1,000 trees during lockdown.

    The Northumberland business promotes “sustainable” targeted worming, based on test results rather than a fixed schedule. Nothing is left with the customer after a sample is returned, and recycled packaging is composted on site.

    “A lot of the time these options cost more, but we have to look at our choices,” director Claire Shand told H&H. “One of the privileges of running a successful business is the ability to give back and make positive change.”

    Kent-based Saracen Horse Feeds is also conscious of its local environment, and sources 70% of ingredients from the south-east.

    Its feed bags are recyclable, and at the warehouse, renewable energy is used, LED lighting is set on sensors and waste from the mill is composted.

    “We’re very lucky because we’re in an agricultural area, which helps us support local businesses, but also reduce food miles,” said Saracen sustainability champion Stephanie George.

    Catherine Milne, founder of See Change Now, a plastic-free, biodegradable horse shampoo, said we need to get back to the “traditional values” of the sport, of valuing, repairing and repurposing tack and kit.

    “We can all adopt some changes that will serve to reduce our personal carbon footprint and that of our horses, which will help businesses adapt and come up with the right answers,” she said.

    The issue can be complicated, according to Claire Williams, executive director of the British Equestrian Trade Association.

    “The customer may look at plastic packaging [and think it’s bad] but actually it could be recycled and can be more environmentally friendly than materials manufactured further afield,” she said.

    “Efforts are being made and everybody has to weigh up the cost and implications.”

    Renewable electricity, sustainable food and recycling are employed at ExCeL London to reduce its environmental impact.

    The London International Horse Show venue feeds food waste to its in-house wormery, which is turned into fertiliser, as is manure from the stables.

    Visitors are invited to donate to offset their carbon footprint created travelling to the show, and are encouraged to use public transport.

    Road miles can also be reduced by entering online competitions.

    “Competing from home reduces carbon emissions as there is no need to travel,” said Sarah Ahrens, founder of Dressage Online, which became carbon negative this year.

    A green yard

    The British Horse Society’s Oonagh Meyer suggests:

    ⦁ Automatic bowls or troughs so buckets don’t have to be washed out and refilled.

    ⦁ Recycling water for hay soaking and dust control. Owl House Stables in Kent collects rainwater from guttering to irrigate its school.

    ⦁ Switching from hosepipe to buckets for washing and installing self-closing taps.

    ⦁ Efficient light bulbs or solar-powered lights, with motion sensors where possible.

    ⦁ Ensuring the muck heap is not sited to pollute waterways.

    ⦁ Setting up areas to separate waste. Local councils and Waste and Resources Action Programme can advise on recycling.

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